Congratulations 2014 Margaret Clark Award Winners!

AAGE is pleased to announce the results of the 2013-2014 Margaret Clark Award Competition. Please join us in congratulating Ben Kasstan (U Durham), the winner of the graduate competition and Lilly Lerer (U Chicago), winner of the undergraduate competition.  

The Margaret Clark award supports the continued pursuit of work following the example of Margaret Clark, a pioneer in the multidisciplinary study of socio-cultural gerontology and medical anthropology, and a scholar committed to mentoring younger colleagues. We received a number of excellent submissions – it was challenging for our judges to choose amongst them! Essays were judged on four criteria: originality and timeliness of topic; effective use of theory and evidence; significance to anthropological studies of aging; clear and effective writing and organization.

Please join us to celebrate the winners of this competition at the AAGE/Aging Interest Group Business meeting, held in conjunction with the AAA annual meetings on Saturday Dec. 6 from 1-2:15 in the Wilson Room (Marriott Hotel, Washington D.C.)


Lilly Lerer, University of Chicago

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“Slowing Down Medicine: The Plural Worlds of Hospice Care.”

Abstract: Modern medicine often fails to care effectively for terminally ill persons, resulting in widespread use of aggressive treatment at the end of life. This paper ethnographically examines a hospice care organization where caregivers “slow down” care by acknowledging the plurality of forces that constitute the illness experience, philosophically departing from their biomedical, hospital-based colleagues. I use ethnographic stories to demonstrate the kind of efficacy that results from “slowing down” medical care and attending to a different set of patient problems. This ethnography of hospice care reveals a medical world in which the embodied, experiential manifestation of disease—rather than the statistical, clinical manifestation—is privileged, resulting in medical care that is enmeshed in the variables of everyday life. The finding invites us to consider the efficacy of attending to the lived experience of disease, acknowledging and working within the messy complexity of daily life.


Ben Kasstan, University of Durham (U.K.)

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“Tokens of Trauma: The Experience of Ageing Shoah Survivors in a Jewish Support Centre”

Abstract: This paper explores the traumatic memories of ageing Shoah survivors who attend a Jewish social and therapeutic support facility, and is the result of research conducted over a six month period in London (UK). The study investigates the perceived differences in trauma and I discuss how this gradient is shaped by a controversial dialogue over who is ascribed the status of ‘survivor’. The difference in Shoah experience contextualises how survivors of ghettos and concentration camps possess a specific and salient relationship with food. This paper argues that food offers emotional and nutritional sustenance for victims of trauma and focuses on the significance of bread as an enduring symbol of catastrophe for participants, as well as being an ancient marker of both suffering and survival in Judaism. I position the reflections on death made by camp survivors within Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical paradigms, where agency over funeral rites is used to recondition the ‘bare death’ that bodies would have been subjected to in the Nazi extermination camps. This work evaluates the meanings that underlie death, burial and cremation amongst camp survivors, where decisions regarding the end of life stage can indeed be interpreted as a shared experience with those who perished during the Shoah. Results exemplify how religious and cultural elements of Judaism, which are made available to ageing survivors and refugees within the field-site, mediate the trauma that has become thoroughly embodied for participants. This study ends by detailing how survival is steeped in metaphorical and intersubjective acts of remembrance, offering a novel contribution to the anthropological study of genocide and the consequences which come into sight with the passing of time.

Honorable Mentions:

Anna Corwin (UCLA) “Emptying the Self: Kenotic Practice in a Catholic Convent Infirmary”

Tony Pomales (U Iowa) “Experiences of Aging, Marginality and Social Suffering Among Older Adult Women Sex Workers in Costa Rica”

Ender Ricart (U Chicago) “Care Prevention and Emergent Ontologies of Healthy Aging in Japan”


We would also like to acknowledge and thank the award competition judges:

Undergraduate:  Emily Wentzell (U Iowa) & Elana Buch (U Iowa)

Graduate:  Jessica Robbins-Ruskowski (Wayne State), Caitrin Lynch (Olin College) & Tam Perry (Wayne State)

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